I hated Record Breakers. It was incredibly dull (except for the domino challenges), and all that wholesome patience grated on me. It still does, even more so now I know it’s true.
Getting work published takes a long time. The first step is research. Which journal is most likely to like my work? Where’s open for submissions? Who’s judging competition x and have I read enough of their work to know their style and interests? Next, you submit. Follow the guidelines about word count, number of lines, preferred font. Write a good cover letter (not too long, but enough to show you’ve read the journal). Then you wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. I’ve had responses in a week. I’ve waited over six months. Some places accept simultaneous submissions, many don’t – so my work sits and waits too. It’s a frustrating process, but since many indy presses are run by tiny teams or volunteers, it’s understandable. The thrill of having something accepted is wonderful. Even a kind rejection (where they ask to see more work soon) is ok. The waiting is tough, but the best way to get round that is to throw myself into something new.
I’m looking forward to Autumn now – although I miss the light terribly- it’s a time for squirrelling myself away and writing. Obviously Secret Severn work takes priority, and my goal is to get drafts done by Christmas. I’ll put them away for a while, then revisit and revise in the spring. I’ve got an urge to write stories again too, so I’m hoping to spend time with writing prompts and get some of these floating ideas down on paper. It’s a time of watching the garden fade and prepare itself for next year, reading all the things I’ve not got round to reading, and maybe watching a bit of Record Breakers*.
Thanks for doing such a great job last week, after my slightly awkward plea for interaction with my social media pages. If you’ve chance to do the same again that’s ace – plus I really love talking to you !
Ah, I feel light and breezy unlike the weather at the moment. Why so cheery Kathryn ? How kind of you to ask. The reason for this uncharacteristic jollity is that I’ve sent my final OCA assignment. I couldn’t be more relieved. I mentioned in earlier blogs that I felt I was increasingly working to fulfil learning outcomes and holding back on what I produced so that I’d meet the criteria for showing I can redraft my work. I felt about as creative as a dishcloth. I’ve loved having feedback and learning new techniques and I’ve enjoyed working to deadlines. I’ve hated knowing that whatever I produce has to tick a set of boxes to meet guidelines and funding requirements. This is the nature of education and it is utterly unavoidable but my desire for a good mark was superseding the desire to produce good work. I will still enter my work for assessment because I dislike to leave things unfinished but mentally I’ve moved on.
Now the real work begins. I shall spend June putting together a collection of poems to submit to a mentoring and publishing program as well as creating a super complicated submissions calendar. It’s a bit like creating a revision chart, full of good intentions which may or may not be fulfilled. I feel excited and a little giddy which is something I haven’t felt for a while. I’ve already submitted to Bridport and to Mslexia’s themed writing and whilst I may not win a thing, I may win a tiny-weeny prize or I may win the biggest prize of all. One thing I am certain of is that the process of revising my work, researching publications and prizes to see where it will fit and learning to cope with the inevitable rejections will make me a better writer. I’m half-way through 2018 and don’t really feel I’ve got a hang of the year yet but I’m confident the last half will be productive and exciting.
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Well, today’s the day. Online Poetry workshop with Bare Fiction magazine.
I’m scared. I have given a poem to people to read. Not friends who will be kind (mostly), or my mom who would be delighted if I wrote a variation on three blind mice, but real people who have nothing to lose if they pull my poem to pieces.
And that’s the key. It’s the poem not me that is being criticised. Whilst what I write comes from my heart and head, it is not the sole distillation of who I am. And I can’t believe it’s take me this long but I’ve finally got it. Criticism is the only way I will continue to get better. It’s as though I’m setting a little boat out to sea.
Those who know me in real life will know that I have little confidence and the most fragile cup of self-esteem, despite outward appearances. Confidence is not given, it is learned and learned and learned by being strict with myself and asking myself to step back and look at the reality. Did that person really say that? Is it possible that I’m letting my own insecurities colour how I interpret the actions of others ? And might that interpretation be wrong ? It’s easy to slip into the habit of blaming everyone else for not being sensitive/insightful/wearing the right colour shoes, but I’ve finally reached a point of taking responsibility for my own feelings. My instinct is to cut off from the after the first indication of negativity. If I do that I’ll never grow. This is my favourite thing in my world, and there is nothing that makes me feel more “right” than writing. Except perhaps that hazy festival feeling, but that’s a bit tricky to achieve on a chilly Monday afternoon.
I’m a bit unsure how it will all work, and I’m hoping that the feedback I’ve written up for the other poets is useful. I’m getting quite brave in my old age. If nothing else I feel privileged to be part of this, and have enjoyed the opportunity to read some amazing new work. Time to rest up for a few hours so that my brain is functioning well for this evening. I’ll do another post later in the week to let you know how it went.